Hi.

I'm a road bike enthusiast newbie. I had a Raleigh for 20+ yrs, and used it only for putzing about... never a ride for the sake of a ride. Recent move to Spokane has made my favourite fitness/hobby (tennis) logistically difficult, so I decided to take up road biking for fitness and fun. I'm a code monkey, and long stints of near motionless computer gazing make some kind of rigorous activity a must. So, biking it is!!!

When I decided to buy, checking out local bike shop, entry level road bike was +- $500. Knowing squat about all this new equipment/components/sizing etc., I decided I'd try to get used bike on EBAY 1st... do some rides, then get something better if/when I knew a bit more. Long/short: I bid for 2 weeks, and everything I bid on ended up going for < $400. Older Trek 1000's available for less, but one thing I wanted was shifting on handle bars.

I read a couple comments/threads here about the EBAY vendors selling "no name" bikes new (eg. Windsor, Dawes etc.), but decided to get one anyway given frustrations bidding on used ones. I read some threads/comments here that were less than complimentary about SORA ders, and originally hoped to get something better. Resolved to previously mentioned new EBAY "no name" bike, I chose a Dawes: EBAY Item description here. Compared to prices for used bikes, seemed to me described components were worth risk. The company's web site is really cheesy. I'm guessing someone has bought rights to the the name, maybe buying components/frame etc. and just assembling. Domain name registration and such is more or less meaningless... wouldn't surprise me if Windsor/Motobecane/Dawes etc. were exact same frames w/different paint all assembled in same warehouse.

Nevertheless, since purchase I emailed DAWES w/a few questions, and recieved prompt, informative response. So, who knows?

I'm very happy with this bike. I've done +- 1200 miles... one 85 mile ride to Coeur de Lane & back, and a lot of nice country road riding around here... couldn't be happier. The Sora ders are smoothest thing I ever used: only took minor, easy adjustments to get 'em fast and smooth. AFAIC, they're just fine. Maybe if I rode Ultegra bike I'd change my tune, but this thing suits me fine. For $300 and change, I can live with uncertainty about manufacturer... Dawes or whatever. This was a good deal. My $0.02 contribution for SORA ders appropriatness for non-trivial recreational road bike use: 2 thumbs up. Same with EBAY DAWES purchase for 1st timer: good deal AFAIC.

I specifically decided to get steel frame based on what I could get from web saying steel is a bit "softer". Roads in spokane are rough... potholes, cracks etc, and I thought steel would suit me best. Again, no complaints w/frame... just fine AFAIC. Not sure if I did it for right reasons, but just fine. I don't know much about frame geometry, but this bike is shorter than my old Raleigh. I'm more out front on DAWES, and tight turns at low speed seem to need a bit more focus. Not a problem, but different. Perhaps I'll develop more informed opinions w/use.

I'm a decent wrencher, and pretty well up to speed now w/most of bike's components. The brake pads (is that right term?) are SORA, and I'm not so sure they're all that hot. I read a few threads on this site that seem to confirm my suspicions. No braking problems, but seems to me stopping could be better. I'll get some alternatives this weekend. Any suggestions appreciated.

Based on recomendation of local bike shop, I chose White Lightning chain lube/solvent. So far, doesn't seem like it lives up to it's description... I find I need to clean/lube after almost every ride. I spent a couple hours last nite on web... seaching these forums and a few other things, and pretty much decided to try Sheldon Brown's suggestions. I'm thinking I'll get a 2nd chain, rotate 'em and keep the unused chain clean/lubed. Sheldon's rationale makes good sense to me: I was thinking exterior lubing was most important. His article very informative. Thanks Sheldon!!!

So, I thought I'd go order another chain. Which model do I have? The chain is a KMS. KMS web site, however, is a bit confusing. This page says they have 3 models for 8 speed ders, and only one of 'em has the "Z" designation. However, their Specs Page seems to indicate there are at least 2: Z92 & Z72. There's a pressed "Z" on center of outer link casing, "KMS" stamped on one end and "Narrow" (I think... very small type) pressed on other end. It's silver. So, right now I'm not sure which model this is. From other stuff I've read, if I'm going to rotate chains it seems good idea to use same one for overall health of all components involved. Nashbar has a KMS KMS house brand, and their picture matches stamps on mine. However, this thing is recumbant/232 links... WTF? I don't see anything like that on KMS site.

If anyone has suggestions how to zero in on exactly what this chain of mine is, I'd appreciate it.

Lastly, I've found 2 seemingly active bike clubs here:
RoundandRound and Spokane Bike Club. Now met quite a few folks who participate, and they've got some seemingly nice day/weekend rides. I'm looking forward to getting out with a few of 'em so I can measure my fitness on distance/climbs etc. and see where I'm at. Hopefully get myself in shape for some of these nice weekend trips out to middle of nowhere. Coming from Ca. East Bay, all these close proximity mountain rides through pristine country looks like fun: nothing quite like it in Oakland.

Ok... very long introduction I know. Hope it doesn't get me chase out of here. Parusing intros in this topic, seems like there's good response so I thought I'd ask my immediate questions here. Any suggestions on prev/mentioned stuff much appreciated.

Given info I've gleaned from searching forums here last few days, I'm sure I'll be back and participate. Real useful, and nice to see good info from experienced enthusiasts. I don't forsee myself racing, but do plan on regular, disciplined riding and already enjoy little bit of wrenching I've done. Should be fun.

Thanks for the forums and web site!!! Cheers!